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New U.S. Marine Regiments Aimed at China

Jan. 11, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—On the agenda to be discussed by U.S. and Japanese officials in Washington this week is a U.S. plan to redesign U.S. Marine Corps infantry forces into “Marine Littoral Regiments” (MLR), including one to be based on Okinawa. According to a Jan. 10 “World Alert” item published in the Washington Post, the “repurposing” of the regiment on Okinawa by 2025 will enable it “to rapidly disperse to fight in austere, remote islands, according to several U.S. officials. The Marine Corps plans to equip the regiment with advanced capabilities, such as anti-ship missiles that could be fired at Chinese ships in the event of a Taiwan conflict.... This is one of the most significant advances in U.S. force posture in the region in at least a decade, said the officials. ‘Japan is substantially improving its capacity, but also providing more capacity for the United States,’ said the administration official.”

“Japan is stepping up big-time and doing so in lockstep with the United States,” the White House officials said... Its decision to build its own long-range missiles and in the meantime to buy U.S. Tomahawks as an interim step is a major advance in counterstrike capability and a signal to China that aggressive moves in the region will not go unanswered, they said.”

The senior administration official stressed the significance of the developments: “This is about Japan essentially aligning with the United States, in many ways like a NATO ally.”

The article is explicit about how this could lead to a direct U.S.-China military confrontation: “Japan and China also have been engaged in a long-running territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea northeast of Taiwan, where an escalation could draw the United States—which has pledged to defend Japan under a security treaty—into a conflict with China.”

Unnamed Pentagon officials stated that

“the Pentagon additionally wants to be able to rotate Marines to some of the more remote islands southwest of Okinawa, where they will train and perhaps position equipment there, to develop the ability to rapidly deploy should China attack Taiwan, officials said. Some of the southwestern islands, known collectively with Okinawa as the Ryukyus, are only about 100 miles from Taiwan—roughly the same distance that separates the self-governed island from mainland China.”

(It is useful to look at a map of the region to see just how close Okinawa and the Ryukyus are to Taiwan and China.)

“The Marine regiment ‘reinforces Japan’s status as by far the most important ally in preparing for a Taiwan crisis,’ Johnstone said. ‘That really is the center of what we’re doing here.’ ”

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